Since no one has come to interview Nick Maes (author of Crescent Star) just yet, he has decided to get an imaginary interviewer to do so. Everything that follows is a complete fabrication.
Imaginary Interviewer (II): Welcome everyone. I am speaking with Nicholas Maes, author of the YA novels Locksmith, Laughing Wolf and, most recently, Crescent Star. It is this last novel that I’d like to talk about today so let’s get to it. Hello Nicholas...
Nick Maes (NM): Call me Nick.
II: Great. So Nick, tell us something about yourself.
NM: Sure. I’m male (obviously), 50 years old (yikes!) and unabashedly Jewish. The only reason why I’ve mentioned this last fact is that it ties in with my latest book, Crescent Star.
II: How so?
NM: Well, in a fit of insanity I decided to write about the Israeli/Palestinian divide. You see, Crescent Star is set in Israel in the summer of 2006 and is told from the perspectives of Avi (a 15 year-old Jew) and Moussa (a 15 year-old Palestinian).
II: Why the summer of 2006?
NM: Because that’s when war broke out between Lebanon and Israel. I happened to be present and the experience was memorable.
II: You mentioned a fit of insanity. Why?
NM: Why would anyone in his right mind write about Israel? People have strong feelings about this subject, negative and positive, and tend to yell at anyone who opposes their point of view. There’s also the question of my readership. Do you know what people have told me? They’ve said teens aren’t interested in political stuff, so a book like Crescent Star is a waste of time. According to them, teens want to read about Harry Potter and high school, not Jews and Arabs opposing each other. My topic is a bummer, in other words.
II: How do you respond?
NM: The way I figure it, teens are part of this world. Global events affect them as much as they affect adults. So shouldn’t they have an idea of what’s going on? This applies to their awareness of Israel, hence my writing of Crescent Star.
II: You’re not the first to write a teen novel on this subject, you know.
NM: That’s true.
II: So what’s different about Crescent Star? What will teens get from your book and not from others?
NM: Crescent Star, I think, presents its readers with a balanced picture of events. Unlike some books that I’ve come across (I won’t mention titles), Crescent Star doesn’t expect its readers to pass judgement, to favour Jews over Arabs or vice versa; after all, there’s nothing easier than passing judgement on others. No, my purpose is to explain the complexity of Israel and to get readers to see both sides of the equation, as hard as this can be at times.
II: Can you give us an example?
NM: Sure. Take the security perimeter. On the one hand it seems out and out unfair – it prevents Palestinians from moving about freely and creates huge delays and a lot of hardship. On the other, it was built to prevent suicide bombers from entering the country. Before the wall existed, hundreds of Israelis were killed in bomb attacks, and hundreds more were injured. Since the construction of the wall, these attacks have disappeared. Should the wall exist? Should it be torn down? The question is more difficult than outsiders can imagine. And the wall is one example of many such issues.
II: Wow. I guess there really are no easy answers. But tell me. You’re Jewish, right?
NM: Yes. I know where this is leading.
II: Can you claim to be objective when you clearly have a stake in this issue? As a Jew won’t you be steering readers towards a pro-Israeli point of view?
NM: Some of Israel’s harshest critics are Jewish, although I suspect such people would hate Crescent Star. In fact, I admire Israel greatly – it’s only fair my readers should know this about me. Still, like many Jews, I’m aware there are problems afoot in Israel. I feel no need to whitewash the Israeli position, any more than I feel the need to whitewash the Arab one (as some authors have done). Both sides have a claim to justice, and both groups have some explaining to do. In final analysis, I can only say that I sweated and strained to be fair to both sides, and I mean that literally.
II: So you never pass judgement in Crescent Star?
NM: With regard to one subject only – the suicide bomber. Suicide bombings are out and out disgusting. This perspective emerges subtly in the novel. But other than that....
II: I see. But look, this is a gloomy topic. Is Crescent Star a handbook of Israeli politics, or is it a story with strong characters, a ripping narrative and powerful emotions?
NM: A novel isn’t a newspaper article. Of course there’s a story, a good one full of twists and turns. As for the characters, well, Avi and Moussa can speak for themselves.
AVI: Shalom, Mr. Interviewer.
II: Oh my goodness. I wasn’t expecting you two to walk off the page. You look and sound... real.
AVI: And you do, too, even though you’re imaginary.
MOUSSA: We’re as real as any fictional character.
II: In that case, answer me this. Are you happy with the way Nick Maes has described you? Has he done justice to your lives?
AVI: I guess. I wish he hadn’t talked about my fear so openly. And why did he mention my girlfriend? That’s my personal business.
NM: As my character, you have no personal business.
MOUSSA: We disagree. We’re entitled to our privacy. Like the way you showed me killing that bird. That was something I wanted to keep to myself.
II: It sounds to me that Maes has described you almost too realistically. We have five seconds left. Do you have anything to add?
AVI: We would like to hear what readers think of us.
MOUSSA: I was going to say the same thing.
II: Well, that wraps things up everyone. Thank you Avi, Moussa and you Nick Maes. And please excuse me as I wander back into my imaginary world.
I'll admit, when the publisher first told me Maes had crafted an imaginary interview I was kinda like, "Uh huh. Oooookay." But I actually really liked this idea and it worked out great, at least I think it did. So thank you Nicholas Maes for this fun and refreshing take on an interview. Hope you all enjoyed it. Would love to hear what you thought. :D